CEO message: Windmill’s work in Québec is just beginning
Published January 31, 2022.
Daily headlines highlight labour market shortages as an obstacle to Canada’s economic growth, and nowhere are these shortages felt more acutely than in Québec. In the 1950s, Quebeckers were often forced to leave home for work due to the province’s chronic unemployment problem. However, a falling birth rate, a fast-ageing population and lower immigration levels than in the rest of Canada have combined to make Québec’s labour market the country’s second tightest after British Columbia. Business leaders across Québec have called on new measures to address the labour crunch, including increasing immigration levels.
Against this backdrop, Windmill’s work is particularly important. In April 2019, we launched Le Moulin Microcredits/Windmill Microlending in Québec with the support of the Rossy Foundation. Today, we are pleased to provide an update on our progress in la belle province.
With all the initial hurdles to starting a lending business in a new jurisdiction, our pilot year in Québec began slowly. We hired our first Québec manager and set to work to build awareness in the sector, ending the year with 13 new loans. Despite the significant impacts of COVID-19 on our sector, the number of clients served in Québec has been growing steadily since then. Last fiscal year, we served 37 new clients, almost three times as many clients as our pilot year. This year, we’ve seen this trend continue. Our new loan numbers have doubled compared to the same period last year, with 57 new clients served since April, and we have doubled the number of French-speaking team members to serve our francophone clients.
We have also expanded and diversified our community of supporters in Québec over the last two years. The leadership of the Rossy Foundation attracted new funders to our work, and we now have eleven foundations and individuals directing their support to our work in Québec. In addition, the funding announcement and endorsement from the Government of Québec in April 2021 was particularly important for us as a new organization operating in the province.
As in the rest of Canada, our Quebecois(e) clients are heavily focussed on healthcare and IT. Half of them are working to reaccredit as nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists and other healthcare professionals. A further 20% of our clients are working towards careers in IT professions. As in the rest of Canada, many of our clients are located in major urban centres, and in Québec, about 30% live outside Montreal. We remain focused on serving clients in all regions of the province.
As always, our focus remains on our clients and their success. We monitor our Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Google reviews in Québec closely and are pleased to enjoy a 4.9-star rating. One client, Christian, commented: “J’ai reçu le suivi de Mme. Joyce. Top clair et efficace! “. We work hard to build relationships with our clients and were delighted by Ricardo’s review: “I got the coaching I badly needed to succeed, they are like a family, you can count on them, they will do their best to help.”
We are also pleased to announce that this Quarterly Supporters Newsletter will now be available in French. Cliquez ici pour changer votre langue préférée en français pour cette bulletin.
We look forward to helping more clients each month in Québec and helping the province convert immigrant potential into prosperity for all.
Claudia Hepburn, CEO